The Uncanny Valley is a hypothesis in human aesthetics concerning the relation between the human likeness and familiarity of something, in particular the point where something which is not quite completely human becomes more creepy and unsettling than it ever could. This is commonly talked about in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence, where the creation of realistic humanoids can yield such results. The "valley" in the name refers to the dip in the graph revolved around the concept, devised by the hypothesis's creator Masahiro Mori, in between the inhuman and familiar.

This body of work investigates this through photography, where the mechanical and life-like representation that the still image offers, and of which we are familiar with, is altered in subtle ways, transforming our original perception of the image.


One set of portraits emulates the popular optical illusion known as the “Thatcher effect”, in which the eyes and mouth are individually rotated upside down, followed by the whole image being flipped upside down. The eyes and mouth being mostly symmetrical features look normal when viewed this way, however manipulation of the photograph's orientation suddenly transforms this idea into something a lot more different and inhuman.


The second set illustrates the phenomenon of people having a dislike to photographs of themselves, due to the fact their image is not mirrored, unlike the mirrored image we are limited to seeing. The subjects "looks" into a mirror, and the viewer can see how the subject's features are flipped from left to right, creating another subtle change enough to create this feeling of uneasiness.


Exhibited as part of Transatlantic Connections at Whitespace in Edinburgh in April 2014.





"We should begin to build an accurate map of the uncanny valley, so that [...] we can come to understand what makes us human."


- Masahiro Mori

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